Anglers fishing New York State waters have until Aug. 16 to offer input on a good number of proposed fishing regulations changes for the 2014-16 fishing seasons.
Department of Environmental Conservation fisheries planners established a changed format for fishing regulations every other year; approved and accepted changes begin Oct. 1 of each even year. DEC officials have posted listings for statewide, regional and countywide rules changes designed to standardize regulations and/or adjust to changes in fish populations and harvesting conditions.
Three notable statewide changes apply to area anglers. The muskellunge minimum size limit will be set at 40 inches for all waters and the season opener would be moved to the last Saturday in May, including Chautauqua Lake. The rationale for this musky size change is to have Chautauqua rules consistent with statewide regulations and provide to all anglers earlier fishing opportunities.
Another statewide change of note is a more precise definition of catch-and-release. The new rule would allow removal of game fish from the water for measuring, weighing and photographing, but the fish must be immediately returned to the water unharmed.
Fish caught out of season or species deemed endangered species must be unhooked and released in the water. The regulation change ends with the stipulation: “Intentionally angling for threatened or endangered fish, or for fishing during the closed season for that species, is prohibited.” Many fish species are considered in this new ruling, but the deliberate targeting of sturgeon was a major concern.
Ice fishermen statewide will have a seven-line limit per angler for rigs in any combination: Jigging rods, tip-ups, tip-downs, set rods and other devices. Rules for Great Lakes and various inland-lakes waters varied widely across the state; this new rule will provide ice-bound anglers ease in setting up as many as seven lucky lines.
Among regional changes, a minimum 54-inch length limit for muskellunge caught in Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and the Niagara River will standardize Great Lakes catches in New York State waters. The Province of Ontario retains a 44-inch limit for Lake Erie and upper Niagara River waters, which will remain a concern for musky anglers fishing across the International Line.
A serious decline in the walleye population at Honeoye Lake has prompted officials to raise the length limit to 18 inches, which matches special regulations set at Chautauqua Lake. There is a three-fish creel limit and an 18-inch length requirement at Chautauqua.
Area changes in county waters include a year-round, catch-and-release, artificials-only trout season in many county and regional waters.
In Allegany County, Chenunda Creek will be added to that year-round list.
In Cattaraugus County, special trout regulations for Ischua Creek will be eliminated. A year-round trout season opening will be set for Allegany State Park waters and sections of Clear Creek and Fenton Brook in Cattaraugus County.
In Genesee County, baitfish restrictions will be lifted for fishing Harlow Lake in Darien Lakes State Park. A program to establish a trout fishery in that lake resulted in no trout production, so the need to ban fishing with live bait no longer exists at Harlow Lake.
Wyoming County’s famed Oatka Creek will see a year-round trout season for all stream waters in that county, which will allow catch-and-release fishing with artificial lures from Oct. 16 to March 31. The creek supports a modest number of wild brook trout, which will not be impacted by this new fishing season opening.
Regulation changes that meet acceptance will be in effect starting Oct. 1, 2014. To view the entire list of changes and their rationale and to respond online, go to www.dec.ny.gov. To offer comments in email form, write to: email@example.com. Enter in the subject line: Possible Freshwater Fishing Regulations Changes (and include the ID number). A separate email must be sent for each regulation-change comment.
For more information, call (518) 402-8924. To submit feedback via U.S. Post, write to: Shaun Keeler, NYS Bureau of Fisheries, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753.